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Understanding Bequest Motives An Empirical Analysis of Intergenerational Transfers

  • G�nther Fink
  • Silvia Redaelli

This paper analyzes one of the major factors underlying old agents' saving and consumption decisions - the individual intentions to leave bequests. We present two simple model of altruistically motivated bequests and use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to confront the theoretical implications of the two model with empirical evidence from the survey data provided. The main findings from the data are the following: First, there is strong evidence against a strictly accidental, and in favor of intentional bequest motive for a significant share of agents aged sixty and older. Second, we find the probability to leave an inheritance is mainly driven by wealth and individual characteristics such as health, education, race and religion, but not directly dependent on the heirs' wellbeing, contradicting the standard altruistic model of bequest.

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Paper provided by Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department in its series DNB Working Papers with number 042.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbwpp:042
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  8. Laitner, John & Ohlsson, Henry, 2001. "Bequest motives: a comparison of Sweden and the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 205-236, January.
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  13. McGarry, Kathleen, 1999. "Inter vivos transfers and intended bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 321-351, September.
  14. Tullio Jappelli & Franco Modigliani, 1998. "The Age-Saving Profile and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," CSEF Working Papers 09, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
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  18. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
  19. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
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